Uriel Lynn: ‘Israel has a significant trade surplus with Cyprus’

“Our two countries have a mutual understanding and purpose”, said Uriel Lynn, lawyer and former member of the Knesset and current President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

Speaking exclusively with CBN on the sidelines of the Cyprus-Israel Annual Business Lunch, Lynn was very much in line with the tone of the event, which was highly positive on areas of cooperation for the two countries in sectors such as energy, tourism and the transport of aid from Cyprus to Gaza under the Amalthea Initiative.

In 2023, a total of 410,000 tourists from Israel visited Cyprus, with just 14,000 going the other way. When asked what can be done to increase the number of Cypriots going to Israel, Lynn countered: “Actually, there is so much more than can be done to increase the number of Israelis coming to Cyprus! After all, Israel has a significant trade surplus with Cyprus (indeed, in 2022 Israel exported around €836 million worth of products to Cyprus and €103 million went the other way), so further developing the tourism sector here for Israelis would make sense in the context of our economic relationship.”

When asked what can be done to achieve this, Lynn suggested an increase in flights between the two countries, but also noted that hotels in Cyprus are currently too expensive, which puts some potential tourists off.

On the unavoidable subject of Israel’s economy in the context of the war in Gaza, Lynn insisted that his country’s economic structure is resilient and diversified enough to face the challenge. “Historically”, he added, “Israel has bounced back from different wars, and also from global crises of a different nature like the COVID-19 pandemic. Each time, there has been a recognition on the side of the government that business needs to be supported, and this will need to happen again. The current war is a challenge, but not an existential threat to the economy itself. It is however extremely tough in other respects, and quite different to previous wars Israel has fought – other than its much longer duration, it is also taking place amongst a civilian population where there are different rules in place in order not to harm them.”

During his keynote speech a few minutes earlier, Lynn pointed to the early 1980s when Israel’s economy was in dire straits as it saw inflation leap by 400%, a negative trade deficit and was characterised by severe inefficiency. At the time, the government took action to incentivise and further develop the private sector, with laid the foundations for the economy doubling in size in the last 20 years and Israel becoming the second biggest exporter of services in the world relative to its GDP. With Lynn’s term as President of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce soon coming to a close, he remains confident that his country’s economic trajectory is set to remain positive.

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